The stage was
set. At exactly 5:11 p.m. we entered the Cardinal office on the street level at
Busch Stadium. Determined to appear confident, I walked briskly toward the
World Series temporary reception desk and immediately encountered the home-run
king Roger Maris and sportscaster Joe Garagiola. Pausing very briefly to catch
my breath, I moved through the crowded room. Because I'd urged Kenny and the
boys to drive the 500 miles and because I was the guy who hadn't been able to
find a single ticket in spite of a day of frantic phone-calling, I was willing
to try anything. I brushed past the home-run king and calmly said, to the
receptionist, "Call George and tell him Grady Jim is here."
The woman looked
up from the desk without expression, a veteran at repulsing gate-crashers and
con artists. She examined my face, apparently trying to determine if I were
telling truth. "What's your name?" she said sharply.
Jim," I repeated with a devil-may-care tone. "Call George Hendrick,
please, he's looking for us downstairs."
When in doubt, be
bold. Act like you know what you are doing, right? That's what we always
With a weary
sigh, the woman picked up the phone and dialed. Dozens of busy journalists,
ballplayers' friends, Anheuser-Busch big shots and other notables milled about
the room waiting to be escorted inside the stadium to do whatever it is people
do who are lucky enough to get into the inner sanctum.
George in the locker room?" the receptionist asked.
There was a
pause; it seemed a very long time while she awaited word. Was he on the field
already? Would he remember our brief conversation? How many other calls just
like this one had he received today?
Finally she said,
"Hello, George, there's a Grady Jim here to see you, and he's got some kids
popped out along my upper lip and a cold chill crawled up my rigid spine. The
woman repeated my name, and I knew George had said, "Who?"